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Collapsing Salmon Runs: Farmers Reject Blame

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA - The BC Salmon Farmers Association is again defending Canadian farmers against criticism over their potential effect on wild salmon stocks.

Over the last week dismal run returns on Canadian wild salmon have brought the issue of sea lice on salmon farms under media scrutiny.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association says that declining wild salmon populations in BC is a serious problem that deserves the full attention of all British Columbians.

"As coastal residents, salmon farmers recognize the importance of wild Pacific salmon to coastal ecosystems, life, culture and traditions –and realize our wild salmon heritage has immeasurable value to the future of BC. To look for solutions to declining wild salmon populations, we need to move beyond rhetoric and work together to find real causes and to determine real solutions," says a recent association press statement

"Declining wild salmon populations are a concern along the entire Pacific Northwest Coast – both in areas with salmon farms and in areas without salmon farms. Though ENGOs frequently point to sea lice as a cause of wild salmon declines, these declining populations are also seen in Oregon and California where salmon farming is not practiced and this suggests that other factors are responsible.

"While we hear a lot about the pink salmon collapse in the Broughton Archipelago, the highest pink salmon returns were in 2003 – many years after salmon farming was established in the area. Conversely, the lowest recorded returns were in the late 1980s – before salmon farming had started."

According to the association, salmon farming in BC can be and is being done sustainably. "Salmon farmers contribute to the economic and social development of coastal communities while minimizing the environmental impact of our operations. The more than $800 million that we contribute to BC's economy and the over 6000 people employed (both figures taken from a 2008 report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers) are evidence of our economic and social contributions."

However, debate over the potential threat of sea lice is fierce. Given the motives of farmers, many question the science of their argument.

the Fish Site Editor

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